Neuter and Spay: Desexing Your Dog Explained

Neuter and Spay: Desexing Your Dog Explained


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Did you know World Spay Day – the fourth Tuesday in February – is an annual day of recognition that helps highlight Spay and Neuter Awareness Month? One reason there’s a whole month for it is that choosing whether to neuter and spay your boy or girl dog takes time. Desexing a dog can be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make.

You may have concerns about potential mental and physical health consequences that neutering/spaying could have for your pup, for example.

In this article we look at what it means to neuter and spay your dog. And whether you should.

Experts say the benefits of desexing your dog like this brown canine, outweighs any perceived drawbacks.

Neuter and spay – how desexing is done

Depending on a pup’s breed and size, they can be desexed from around five months onwards.

For females, the process is called spaying and involves surgical removal of the ovaries. In male dogs, the process is called neutering and involves removing the testicles. For each same-day operation, a vet performs this while your pup is under general anaesthetic. Dogs can generally return home once they’ve woken up.

Having said that, it can take 10 to 14 days for them to fully recover. Be ready with some serious TLC.

Preparing for the operation

Before desexing your dog, take note of the following:

  • Prepare a warm and quiet area for them to come home to after the procedure, including water bowl, food bowl and dog bed
  • Don’t feed pup any food for 12 hours before going in
  • Make sure he/she is clean and washed before going in
  • Get your pup to do their toileting routine before the operation
  • For preparing to give any prescribed medication after the operation, find out how to give medicine to your puppy 
Hands of African-American male veterinarian touching cute sick purebred dachshund of brown color standing on medical table before desexing a dog

Preparing the recovery area

Further on the recovery area you prepare for their arrival home, make sure the room doesn’t have any stairs or such that can lead to your newly stitched pet injuring itself. Also ensure you’ve puppy pads or similar if it needs to go to the toilet.

You should have wipes/towels on hand too, in case your dog vomits while recovering (common after surgery). You’ll want to have the dog bed covered with a blanket or similar for this reason.

Importantly, no children or other pets should be allowed in. Your dog will be sore, and you want to minimise any risk of it becoming aggressive or trying to move around too much.

Can a dog pen help your pup recover?

Having a dog undergo surgery can be a stressful experience for everyone in the family. Not only do you have to worry about the operation, but also about what will happen afterwards.

For most canine surgeries, the post-recovery process involves some sort of restriction of activity. Recovery from surgery requires your pup to move as little as possible, which may mean confining them to a dog pen.

Keeping your pal in a dog pen can be tough on both of you, but the more restrictions you can put on them, the quicker their recovery will be and the less likely they will hurt themselves. Whenever your vet asks you to restrict your dog, it’s for a reason – they want your dog to get better as much as you do!

Check out Amazon’s Multifunctional Dog Pen below:

This dog pen is made of black iron wire and the eight-panel fence design can be configured into your favourite shape.

Medical benefits of desexing your dog

Experts say the benefits of desexing your dog outweigh any perceived drawbacks. Let’s look at what these are…

A while back we spoke to Carolyn Press-McKenzie, founder and CEO of HUHA, to get her advice on desexing your dog. “I think that it’s something most pets should have done, so they’re able to live their life without the stress and pressure of going into season.”

“So many animals come to us after being hit by a car because they’ve been roaming looking for a ‘friend’. And with the boys, they’re less likely to get prostate cancer or testicular cancer. Desexing also removes the testosterone edge and aggression.”

It’s interesting to note that while sexual aggression in males is reduced, they continue to be good guard dogs. Their instinct to guard territory remains intact.  

Litter or no litter beforehand?

Pet parents often wonder if their female pup should have a litter before being spayed.

Think carefully this World Spay Day about what the benefits to the animal are of having puppies. You may find the advantages of desexing after a litter don’t actually outweigh the advantages of doing it prior.

For example, spaying before the first heat means female dogs are less likely to get mammary tumours when they’re older. Mammary tumours are the most common malignant tumours in female dogs. They can cause pet obesity (which is a leading cause of diabetes in dogs) and can often be life threatening.

The pet parents of this dog wonder whether they should spay their female pup or let her have a litter.

Drawbacks of desexing your dog

Of course, desexing is not for everyone’s dog.

Some experts and owners prefer to keep pup intact. For example, some pet parents want the experience of puppies and are committed to finding them a great forever home. Or they’re keen to keep a healthy horde (careful not to be a hoarder)!

In either case, make sure you have the time and resources to ensure your dog can have a healthy pregnancy. This means plenty of exercise, rest, pregnancy vitamins and a pregnancy planned diet etc.

Key factors in making the decision

A paper from Rutgers University on Animal Sciences says the decision should be made according to specific conditions. For example, gender, age and breed as well as long-term care, housing and training.

According to this research, desexing dogs can have medical complications too. Some possibilities are:

  • Increased chance of bone cancer
  • Higher risk of orthopaedic disorders
  • Greater risk of adverse reactions to pet vaccinations
  • Triples the risk of hypothyroidism

However, the research also reiterates that health benefits of desexing (female) dogs may exceed potential problems. For example, spaying nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra, a potentially fatal infection in the uterus that affects roughly 23% of intact female dogs. The reduced risk of mammary tumours also is significant (as 50-60% of them are malignant). With male dogs, neutering may reduce the chance of diabetes.

Why you should desex your dog

In Australia, well over 100,000 animals comes through shelters’ doors each year. Many of these are unwanted puppies thanks to owners letting their dog get pregnant by failing to desex them.

The vast majority of shelters are already overpopulated. As a result, countless unwanted puppies are put down.

This golden retriever smiles on World Spay Day.

Our love for dogs extends to cats 🐱 as well. Read these articles below if you are also a cat owner and are looking to maintain or improve your cat’s health too:

  1. Cat Allergies! Dog Allergies! What to Do?
  2. A Guide to Tick Paralysis in Dogs and Cats
  3. Arthritis In Dogs and Cats: Signs and Prevention
  4. Kitten and Cat Health Checklist
  5. Average Cat Weight: Is Yours Under, Over or Just Right?

Neuter and spay for World Spay Day – 23 Feb

As mentioned, World Spay Day is an annual day of recognition that helps highlight Spay and Neuter Awareness Month, which is in February. Many shelters see an influx of unwanted puppies (and kittens) during this month – having been born in the spring and summer months.

What will you do about your furry loved one’s ability to produce litters? Unless you’re a professional breeder, should you really be allowing your dog to get pregnant? World Spay Day is the perfect time to act on this.

Further health protection for your pup

On that note, perhaps you should get dog insurance to cover pup’s vet treatments for health issues like illnesses, accidents and more? Why not try ours – if you sign up online, we have no lock-in contracts and you’ll get one or more months for free!

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